Nothing says Autumn quite like fresh apples, and nothing says organic, sustainable, local agriculture quite like growing your own fruits and vegetables right in your own backyard. If you’re interested in growing apples but are concerned that your location may be unsuitable for growing them, you’ll be happy to know that there are many varieties well suited for warm climates.
One of the most important factors in deciding if a fruit tree will be successful in your area is the number of chill hours required. The definition of chill hours varies, but generally is defined as the number of hours below 45 degrees during fall and early winter. This time is required for the tree to go dormant and begin its preparations for budding and fruiting the next spring. Figuring out your USDA Hardiness Zone (find it here) will help you determine the number of chill hours in your region and from there can help you investigate which fruit trees will flourish in your yard.
I live in Southern California (USDA Hardiness Zone 10), characterized by hot, dry summers and autumns and warm winters with little overall rainfall. The three apple varieties I chose for my backyard were:
- Dorsett Golden – a sweet, firm, flavorful variety that resembles the popular Golden Delicious in taste and texture.
- Fuji– sweet, very crisp, and good apple for storing. These are quite familiar to many people as they can readily be found in the produce sections of your grocery store, but are usually grown off season outside the US.
- Pink Lady (Cripps Pink) – a sweet-tart, very crisp apple with a lovely reddish-pink hue over green background.
All three of these trees produce apples at differing intervals throughout the fall and winter (more on successive fruit tree planting strategies in another post), and have flourished in the warm climate of San Diego. These apple varieties are but three of the dozens of apple types that will survive and produce years of fruit in a warm climate.
So what to do with all those tasty apples? Check out a few of the writers on Eat. Drink. Better and their outstanding recipes for fresh apple dumplings or apple cider jelly. Also did you could make apple cider, here’s a great article all about apple cider. Or one of the easiest recipes – applesauce, can it or freeze it and enjoy long after apple season has passed.